Designing the archive and its implications

Every day, all over the world, archivists are busily engaged in shaping today’s and tomorrow’s documentary memory. Through our work, which is that of evaluating documents and the procedures to which they owe their existence, cooperating with the producers of records to create archival charters and management tables and handling the resulting archives and records, we play a decisive part in creating materials for present and future generations. In the 21st century, our role as archivists bears no comparison with that of our predecessors, since we now have a far more proactive approach to building the memory of the future. And we have no choice in this respect. Whereas, in the days of paper-based records we could afford to take our time, this is no longer an option, since today’s records are born digital. This is where our future and its challenges lie.

Without us, future generations will have no three-dimensional memories of the past, no capacity to understand events in depth. As archivists and memory organisers, we are protagonists in social transformation.

By Henri Zuber, General Heritage Curator, Deputy Head of Department, Defence History Department (SHD), ICA Vice-President (Finance)